Lithuanian basketball legend Rimantas Kaukenas has announced his retirement from all forms of basketball at the age of 39.

Kaukenas spent 16 years as a professional and in that time, captured the Italian league title five times, the Lithuanian crown twice and towards the end of his career, won the Eurochallenge.

He also captured the bronze medal for Lithuania at Eurobasket in 2007.

Included in his statement, Kaukenas jokingly

Kaukenas statement:

“I took this difficult decision because of a combination of different factors, but mainly for health reasons”, explained Kaukenas. “I do not want to find myself again injured for 2-3 or maybe even 4 months with the risk of a surgery that could hurt my team. I think it is time to give space to young people of Reggio Emilia boys so that they take more responsibility, because they all have the skills for that.

“It’s the hardest decision of my life”, he continued. “It took a bit of time to reflect on my last season, my career and my family. I have decided to close this chapter of my life and retire from basketball. Undoubtedly the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make in my life, because basketball has occupied most of it. Basketball has given to me, to my family and to my friends. It has given us extraordinary education and made us understand and learn the true values of family, giving me extraordinary life lessons and giving me the joy of victory… and the sadness of defeats.

“For all the good times and difficult ones through whom I have gone, i have to thank my father and my mother, my mentors in the U.S. my wife and my children, coaches and teammates, managers and trainers, the doctors and physical therapists and even referees for putting up with this stubborn Lithuanian. I also thank all the friends and all those who helped me during every step of the way. I know it was not easy for you to hear me speak just basketball, hear me exclaim continually it is not enough. Not good. You need something more, push more need to do better’.

“Imagine all this with my Lithuanian accent.

“At least I think that the referees will be among the happiest people who learn about my retirement.”